Tuesday, April 15, 2014

When the curriculum and instruction and technology stars align, it's nothing short of MAGIC! #PBL #edtech

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MA-GIC, MA-GIC, MAAAAGIC...MA-GIC, MA-GIC, MAAAAGIC...  I swear I heard Sting singing in the background last week when Pam Plagens ( - KES Instructional Coach)and I were planning a second grade PBL unit at #keswired with two traditionally reluctant teachers.  It was possibly the best day of my year - a day when everything I am trained to do paid off and I wanted to run singing through the halls!

It happened by chance that these teachers asked me a question about a unit assessment.  Now, I was fully prepared here to tell them I have NOTHING to do with assessments and walk away, but then I realized the problem was that there WAS NO unit assessment and they were freaking out.  No unit assessment?!  WHAT-EVER WILL WE DO?!  Hmmm...how about look at the performance indicators for the unit and plan a PBL unit?!  :)  (Man, I was glad I didn't turn my back when I heard the word assessment!  This was an OPPORTUNITY!)

It took 2 hours to plan 10 days, but it was as if the heavens opened and shone the good light down on Pam and me!  We were on FI-YAH!  Pam brings such great verbiage and strategies to the table.  (I was taking notes of things to say in future planning meetings so I can talk the talk!)  Her perspective as an Instructional Coach is SO VALUABLE to me.  I was able to interject with technology resources and PBL planning steps, strategies and documents.  It was amazing to feel so alive with Pam and also with two teachers who were surprisingly on-board not afraid to let us guide them!

At one point I went to make a copy of a rubric (yes! we even created rubrics!) and ran into our district Writing Curriculum Specialist, Alex Ratcliff.  I asked her if she would stop by our planning session to see if she could add anything.  It was awesome!!!  She advised us to change the word convince to persuade and suggested letting students create a rough draft of the brochure we had planned so we could cover some writing TEKS as well.  Such a simple thing, but with such BIG impact on helping the teachers see it's really quite easy to plan cross-curricular activities!  Alex even had the idea to have students write a mock letter as a reflection (which we revised to postcard) instead of the same old "journal entry."  FUN!

Since then, we've created a Google folder with planning documents, rubrics, and supporting materials.  We shared the folder with other Instructional Technology Specialists and Instructional Coaches in the district, as well as all of the 2nd grade social studied teachers in the district so they can contribute and benefit, as well.  Everyone is excited and I think they really see the advantages of putting our heads together ESPECIALLY in the PBL planning process, which can certainly be daunting alone.

The moral of this story:

TEACHERS - trust your support staff (Curriculum Specialists, Instructional Coaches, Technology Specialists, etc)!  We can HELP YOU.  We WANT to help you!  Together we're better, right?!  Help US help YOU!  ;)

SUPPORT STAFF - don't give up!  Be ready to step through the door even when it's just open a crack!  I happened to be in the right place at the right time last week and it was amazing.  And WORK TOGETHER!  If coaches and techs and curriculum peeps present a united front and work together as a team with teachers, it really is pure magic!

If you would like access to the unit we developed, please comment below.  We are more than happy to share it when all of the materials and planning documents are ready.



5 comments:

  1. Great example of teamwork! Would love to see it when finished...I teach 1st grade.

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    1. You got it! Should have it ready this week. :)

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    2. Kerri, here is a link to our Google Drive folder with all of the materials: http://goo.gl/b7qjNf. You have view rights, so feel free to go to File > Make a copy and revise to your needs. :) Good luck!!!

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  2. I am interested. I would love to use it.

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    1. Thanks, Nikki! Here is a link to our Google Drive folder with all of the materials: http://goo.gl/b7qjNf. You have view rights, so feel free to go to File > Make a copy and revise to your needs. :) Good luck!!!

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